Harvest Power is about dirt. It’s also about soil regeneration and managing the modern day intersection of waste, agriculture and energy, so that ongoing human consumption can be used as the engine to drive ongoing renewable energy.
In three and a half years, CEO Paul Sellew has created a company that diverts more than two million tons of organic waste material from landfills and turns it into some 29 million bags of soil, mulch and fertilizer products while producing 65,000 megawatt hours of heat and power-generating energy to run its facilities.
Harvest Power operates in 30 sites across the U.S. and Canada, using strategic partnerships with municipalities, haulers and state-of-the-art anaerobic digesters to create high value compost that is in turn used to create more high nutrition food that can be later be recycled into the system starting the whole process over again.
A simple passion for great tasting food and sustainability fueled the founding of Amelia’s Farm, a hydroponic farm based in Bells, Texas. Amelia Von Kennel, co-founder and executive vice president, and Ben Von Kennel, co-founder and chief executive officer, established the Farm in October 2011. The couple sold their house in Dallas, Texas, and moved their family ranch to Bells, Texas. Since the move, the Von Kennel’s focus has concerned strengthening the Amelia’s Farm brand, and building a 6,000 square-foot, commercial, hydroponic greenhouse. The Farm grows pesticide-free, non-GMO produce all year round.
I recently had a conversation with Amelia Von Kennel. She discussed how the couple started farming, why she and Ben value healthy food and how the Farm stays sustainable.
When Bill and Karla Chambers founded Stahlbush Island Farms in 1985, their goal was to not only grow certified organic produce but also to integrate sustainability into all aspects of their operation. In 1997, Stahlbush Island Farms was certified sustainable by Food Alliance (FA).
“Sustainability is a journey, not an end point,” says Stahlbush Island Farms marketing executive Emily J. Hall. “It’s about having an ongoing philosophy regarding how you operate as a company, and making the right choices every day.”
It’s enough to make you cry. Gills Onions is one of the largest family-owned onion farming operations in the nation. But the Oxnard-based facility doesn’t just grow the tears-provoking vegetable. They control every aspect of production from growing, harvesting, processing, packing and shipping the bulbs in handy, diced up packages to retailers, food service outlets and industrial manufacturers throughout the nation and Canada. And they do so using some surprising sustainable production practices that have lowered their operating costs over a million dollars a year.
Allen Gill had been farming in California’s Central Valley since the 1940s when he brought sons Steven and David into his Rio Farms business.
For Glenn and Karen Cook of Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury, MA, sustainability is more than just a catch phrase. On their 145-acre farm the family’s composting practices have significantly increased soil organic matter. By employing solar panels and wind turbines, Cider Hill Farm also provides itself with 95% of the electricity that it needs to operate.
I recently spoke with Glenn Cook to learn more about how his family farm evolved, the challenges that it faces, and his future goals for the farm.
Scarcity of clean water poses an enormous threat to food security around the world. Both in the developing world, including China and India, and even here in the United States, farmers increasingly face the arduous challenge of obtaining sufficient clean water to grow crops. Faced with this daunting challenge, the team behind the GreenTop platform developed an innovative system that uses wind power to capture atmospheric water moisture, which in turn is used to grow fruits and vegetables hydroponically. By creating an affordable, scalable technology that relies solely on renewable energy, the GreenTop platform enables farmers to boost food production, particularly in developing countries where the climate is arid, arable land scarce and access to clean water limited.
Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center Receives $6.5M Grant for Biogas, Bioenergy ResearchNovember 1, 2012 | OSU Extension
News Release — WOOSTER, Ohio – Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) has received a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Energy to test and expand a university-developed technology that can produce biogas from a variety of solid organic wastes and bioenergy crops.
Awarded through the Biomass Research Development Initiative (BRDI), the three-year grant will also allow researchers to develop technology for converting biogas to liquid hydrocarbon fuels, with the aim of further diversifying the country’s currently available suite of renewable transportation fuels.
News Release – WASHINGTON – Oct. 19, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for 244 projects nationwide that are focused on helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and costs, and use renewable energy technologies in their operations. Funding is made available through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Penn State Led Research Project Receives $10 Million Grant to Develop Perennial Feedstock Production SystemsOctober 28, 2012 | Penn State University
News Release — UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Northeast could help lead the way to a renewable-energy-based economy by utilizing marginal and abandoned land to grow energy crops such as perennial grasses and fast-growing woody plants.
That’s the goal of a new research and education project led by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and supported by a $10 million grant,
News Release – DES MOINES, IOWA, August 14, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that 106 projects in 29 states, Guam and Puerto Rico have been selected for funding to produce renewable energy and make energy efficiency improvements. Funding is made available through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.
News Release – HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina, June 25, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has selected for funding 450 projects nationwide, including 31 in North Carolina, that are focused on helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and costs; use renewable energy technologies in their operation; and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.
News Release – WASHINGTON, June 13, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today $9.6 million for the creation of two new Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) project areas in New York and North Carolina, and the expansion of an already established BCAP project area in Arkansas. The announcement provides the opportunity to expand the nation’s non-food, energy crops used in the manufacturing of liquid biofuels and to help meet state mandated Renewal Portfolio Standards (RPS).
New Hampshire Egg Farmers Support Network of Family Farms to Tune of 500,000 Sustainably Laid Eggs A DayMay 24, 2012 | Noelle Swan
Jesse LaFlamme’s family has been farming eggs in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for four generations. Once large-scale egg-farmers with chickens stacked in battery cages, today the family has become the largest producer of organic and cage-free eggs in New England.
The decision to convert to organic production and cage-free barns first arose as a business strategy.